ADAKU EFURIBE : Nigerian Lives matter, Stop the Killings in Nigeria!
The death of George Floyd in the United States, on May 25, 2020 shook the whole world. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to his neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street.
In different countries, there have been protests following Floyd’s death and action was taken by the US Government resulting in the dismissal of the cops and Chauvin charged for second degree murder. This shows the power in protests and speaking up.
However, the same week Floyd died, we saw reports all over social media that ‘bandits’ murdered rural dwellers in southern Kaduna and Sokoto, all in Northern Nigeria. Incidentally, and sadly too, there were no peaceful protests following these gruesome massacres. Ever since these killings have been going on in Nigeria, they have not received the needed attention from mainstream media.
For the past three years, I always have listened to the 6pm BBC News on radio whilst driving back from work and there was not a single day I heard it reported that Nigerians have been massacred in Nibo, Southern Kaduna, Delta State, and other parts of the country. They always report killings occurring in other villages in other countries and I ask myself, do Nigerian lives matter? Why do we hear about these deaths in Nigeria and we move on the next morning like nothing happened? Perhaps, we have got so used to the news that we no longer feel any empathy.
There is so much hopelessness going on in Nigeria, leading to an increase in mental health issues among Nigerians living in Nigeria and Nigerians in the Diaspora. Communities who are grieving their loss or individuals who have lost loved ones may go on to develop depression as a result of the trauma caused by watching a family member’s body being decapitated with machete.
I have been in the forefront of advocating better healthcare systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria. I do realise that without security, we cannot achieve the SDGs, neither can we promote health when we have not secured the lives of the citizens.
Just like many Nigerians, I have experienced sleepless nights as a result of the killings going on in Nigeria. And when I receive a few calls and texts from friends and colleagues telling me they stand in solidarity with me for the #BlackLivesMattermovement, I open up and tell them about the daily massacres going on in Nigeria. I tell them about the recent killings in southern Kaduna and how Nigerians are complacent about this. I also tell them how these killings are not reported by mainstream media like the BBC, the CNN, DW, Aljazeera and the likes. Curiously, they are shocked to hear this. Also, during one of my recent Zoom meetings with colleagues, people talked about the issue of racism against blacks and poor leadership on the African continent. I helped to create awareness on the killings going on in Nigeria; again, sadly, most people were not aware of the ‘bandit’ killings. Could there be a reason why these killings are not reported?
I often wonder who the sponsors of the ‘bandits’are. Newsreports from local TV stations in Nigeria often say they attack by shooting sporadically and killing every living thing they come across; men, women, children, animals etc. They also burn and destroy people’s homes, which leads to families fleeing their communities to live in the IDP camps for months or even years.
Which leads to the vital question, what plans does the Nigerian government have towards stopping the illegal gun trade and proliferation of small arms in Nigeria? It is no longer news that our borders are porous. For us to bring the perpetrators of these cowardly acts to book, I think we need to know who their sponsors are and where they get their guns and arms from.
I strongly believe, for us to win the war against the massacre of Nigerian citizens by people the Nigerian government chooses to call ‘bandits’, we must ensure we clamp down on those who deal with illegal arms in Nigeria. The name we give to those murderers does not matter; some call them Fulani herdsman, others call them bandits or terrorists. Government must not be complacent in protecting the lives and property of all Nigerians. It is the duty of the government to do so.
Will the government continue to sit back and watch, while the citizens are being massacred regularly in their own land?